November 12th is World Pneumonia Day. Since 2009 the World Pneumonia Day is held to create more awareness and generate action to fight pneumonia and promote interventions to prevent and treat pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infectious respiratory disease that affects the lungs and is associated with high mortality, especially among young children and the elderly.

According to the Global Burden of Disease project, about 75% of pneumonia deaths are within children <5 years and older adults of >70 years. Data of the WHO indicate that pneumonia claims the lives of approximately 2,5 million people worldwide, of which 1 million elderly. COVID-19 added approximately 1.8 million to the death toll in 2020 over the total world population.

VITAL’s research on pneumonia

VITAL’s  Work Package 1 published a research article titled European data sources for computing the burden of (potential) vaccine-preventable diseases in ageing adults in BMC Infectious Diseases. The aim of the study was to assess the burden of disease (BoD) of (potentially) vaccine-preventable diseases to guide decision-making on immunisation programmes for ageing adults in Europe. The team researched the BoD of pneumococcal pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus (including S.aureus pneumonia) and others. The article was based on a report on burden methodologies and data sources to assess burdens of disease. An overview of all data sources identified has been made available in an online database, which is freely accessible using the following link: VITAL DATA SOURCES (

Work Package 2 is performing a clinical vaccination study on the immune responses to influenza and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in older adults compared to (middle-aged) adults. The study aims to compare the immune responses induced by two vaccines and helps to understand underlying mechanisms of non-responsiveness in different age groups. All participants of the study received the seasonal influenza vaccine (quadrivalent inactivated influenza vaccine) during the autumn of 2019 or 2020. A pneumococcal vaccination (13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, PCV13) was given to the same individuals. This vaccine can reduce the chance of invasive pneumococcal disease and, to a lesser extent, community acquired pneumonia. The team presently finalized the 12 month follow-up sampling from all participants.

“If we want to have a healthy adult population and maintain our public health systems, we must start thinking that vaccines are not just for children. We have at least two available vaccines to prevent pneumonia: Influenza and pneumococcal vaccines. We just need to use them!”